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UNITED AFRICA CO., LTD. v. MBRA V. AND ANOTHER


  • appeal
  • 1960-05-30
  • COURT OF APPEAL
  • GLR 136-138
  • Print

KORSAH, C.J., VAN LARE, J.A. AND GRANVILLE SHARP, J.A.


Summary

Land?-Revenue from lease of stool lands?-Right to collect?-Construction of Municipal Councils Ordinance, 1953, s.72 (5).

Headnotes

The Municipal Councils Ordinance, 1953 provides by section 72 subsection (1) " The revenues from Stool lands within a municipal area shall be collected by the Council concerned?...?" and by subsection (5) "For the purposes of this section revenues from Stool lands include any valuable consideration which except for the provisions of subsection (2) of this section would be receivable by the Stool on a disposal by the Stool of any interest or right in land within the municipal area on or after the day on which the Council is established."The United Africa Company Limited was the lessee of Oguaa Stool land under a lease granted by the stool dated 22nd March, 1954 for 99 years operative from 1st January, 1953. The rent payable was G200 per annum. The Cape Coast Municipal Council was established on 1st July, 1954 and claimed as against the lessor the right to collect the rents under the said lease from the lessee in accordance with section 72 (1) of the Ordinance.The lessee took out an originating summons in the High Court for the determination of this claim. The High Court decided the matter in favour of the stool (the lessor) and the council appealed.

Judgement

APPEAL from a decision of Manyo Plange J. in the High Court, Accra on May 1, 1956. The proceedings, brought by way of originating [p.137] summons, related to the interpretation of section 72 subss. (1) and (5) of the Municipal Councils Ordinance No. 9 of 1953. The facts appear sufficiently from the headnote.

JUDGMENT OF KORSAH C.J.

Korsah C.J. delivered the judgment of the court: This is an appeal from a matter brought to the court by the United Africa Company Ltd., the lessee of stool land within the Cape Coast Municipal area, by an originating summons for the determination of certain questions relating to the interpretation of section 72 subsections (1) and (5) of the Municipal Councils Ordinance No. 9 of 1953. The questions are:

?"(a) Whether the revenues from stool land within the municipal area shall be collected by the council concerned (as directed by section 72 (1) of the Ordinance) from the lessor or from the lessee of such lands.

(b) If from the lessee, as from what date is the council to collect such rent payable under a lease made prior to the establishment of the council.

(c) To whom are rents payable under the Lease of Oman Lands (a copy whereof is annexed hereto) registered as No. 667/1957 and dated 22nd March, 1954 and made between the 1st defendant of the one part and the plaintiff of the other part:

(i) in respect of the period prior to the establishment of the 2nd defendant, that is 1st July, 1954 and

(ii) in respect of the period subsequent to the establishment of the said council."

The learned judge answered these questions, in our opinion incorrectly, upon a wrong view as to the effect of the relevant section viz., subsection (5) which reads:

?"For the purposes of this section revenues from Stool lands include any valuable consideration which except for the provisions of subsection (2) of this section would be receivable by the Stool on a disposal by the Stool of any interest or right in land within the municipal area on or after the day on which the Council is established."

The learned judge expressed the view that the lease in question, having been executed prior to the coming into operation of the ordinance, it was not a disposal by the stool of a right in land within the municipal area on or after the day on which the council was established, and that therefore the revenues by way of rent derivable therefrom were not revenues within the meaning of the section. By so doing, he erroneously construed the section by assuming that the operative word in subsection (5) is "disposal", and not "receivable."

In our view a proper understanding of the intendment of the Ordinance demands that this section should be construed to give emphasis to the word " receivable ", so that any revenues from stool lands, whether leased before, on or after the date when the council is established shall [p.138] be treated as revenues from stool lands within the meaning of the Ordinance, provided that the rents accrue and become payable on or after the date the council is established.

It is an elementary principle of law that a lease is merely a letting of land or tenements to another for a term of years for rent reserved. It does not thereby divest the owner or lessor of his title to the lands or tenements so leased. It follows that if a stool is lessor, the property leased would remain stool property and rents therefrom: would be revenues receivable from stool land.

The learned judge's decision that the revenue should not be collected by the council concerned was therefore palpably wrong. In our view the rent should be collected by the Cape Coast Municipal Council from the lessee under the lease made prior to the establishment of the council, as from the date when the council was established.

The answers, therefore, to the questions above set out are as follows:

(a) by the municipal council from the lessee;

(b) as from the date of the establishment of the council;

(c) (i) prior to the 1st July, 1954, to the lessor;

(ii) after the 1st July, 1954 to the Cape Coast Municipal Council.

In the result the appeal is allowed, and the judgment of the court below is set aside.

Decision

<P>Appeal allowed.</P>

Plaintiff / Appellant

da Rocha for Municipal Council (2nd defendant-appellant).

Defendant / Respondent

de Graft Johnson for the 1st defendant-respondent.

Referals

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